The Effects of Dry Weather & Salamanders

Red-backed Salamander

Yesterday’s amphibian cover board check yielded a relatively small encounter rate of salamanders. A total of 23 Red-backed Salamanders were seen at fifteen cover board grids. Only one Red Eft was spotted as well as one White-footed Mouse. The low encounter rate could be due to the recent dry weather we have been having across the state. Although I checked the cover boards after yesterday morning’s heavy rain shower, the forest floor still seemed to be dry and what was once moving streams and filled vernal pools were now reduced to only mud. Moisture is necessary for the survival of many salamanders, especially the Red-backed Salamander which is born without lungs forcing it to breathe through its skin. Therefore the exchange of oxygen and waste gases through the skin demands a moist environment. The drought in Texas can be used as an example of how a long period of dry weather can diminish salamander populations. The already endangered Texas Blind Salamander population has dwindled due to the drought and was captured by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to bring to a hatchery for a chance at preservation. As the summer progresses we hope to find a greater amount and diversity of amphibians underneath our cover boards. Whether or not this can be achieved can depend greatly on the amount of precipitation we receive.

A dry stream near Duck Pond.

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